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This is a handy-sized photographic field guide that aims to help visitors to this remarkable part of the world - beginner or expert - identify with confidence any bird or marine mammal they encounter during their journey from the tip of South America to the Great White Continent.
This title includes: stunning colour plates showing typical views of each species of bird and marine mammal, together with the few terrestrial plants likely to be encountered; approx. 350 photos, 35 illustrations and 2 maps; detailed species profiles covering key identification features and where to look, plus fascinating facts and other talking points; introductory chapters to the Antarctic environments, divided into sections covering the wildlife of each area by season; and, information on tourism and Antarctic cruising, focusing on how to get the most from your visit, how to get there and what to take with you.
Separate sections for each of the three main segments of a typical tour (Beagle Channel, Drake Passage and the Antarctic Peninsula) show the animals most typical of each region. Readership: For new and seasoned visitors to the seventh Continent who want to get the most out of their wildlife experience and would like a pocket-sized memento of their trip of a lifetime.
by Keith Betton in the United Kingdom (24/01/2012)
For those who are contemplating that once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Antarctic this book provides a handy photographic guide to the birds and mammals that you are likely to encounter. In fact it even includes several flowering plants.
The introductory chapters explain how a typical tour works, what to expect, and how to prepare. Three short sections then outline the typical species you are likely to encounter in the Beagle Channel, the Drake Passage and finally the Antarctic Peninsula itself. Lists of species are given with references so that the main text for each can be located quickly. The peninsula is divided up into a further three sections (north-west, north-east and the South Shetlands/Elephant Island) and checklists are shown for no less than 32 points that a tour might visit. These are also shown on a map on the inside front cover (although the cartographer clearly became confused about west and east when adding the longitudinal data).
The main part of the book provides text on each species against photographs on the facing page. In an attempt to help with quick assessment these are divided into the three groupings mentioned above. These are indicated by a subtle colour change to the top of the pages. This colour scheme is also used in boxed area to indicate each species' status within the three zones together with other data. Where a species often occurs in more than one area (such as Gentoo Penguin) there is a cross reference to help explain this. However if (like me) you saw a Snowy Sheathbill in the Beagle Channel you'd end up looking for it in the wrong part of the book as there is no reference to it away from Antarctica.
The photographs are excellent and were mostly taken by the author. Using digital imaging most have been superimposed onto a common background to show similar species in flight together. This practice is proving to be very popular in a number of recent books although Wild Guides were pioneers in developing this technique several years ago. A specific section on penguins gives an insight to their lifestyle using a selection of attractive and interesting images.
Once you've mastered the layout of this book it would be invaluable on deck. It provides more than enough information to satisfy the general visitor, and would serve very well as a field guide for birders.
"[...] Earlier in this review I mentioned receiving this book with a measure of trepidation. This was not borne out of any misgivings about the book's quality, but rather its anticipated effect on me. I was right to be wary; thanks to this book, I now want to go to Antarctica more than ever! And if (hopefully, when) I go, it will not be without this book. Antarctic Wildlife: A Visitor's Guide should be required for any cruise-based visitor to the great white continent. And if you want to risk being compelled to pay big bucks to go on such a cruise, I'd also recommend it to anyone even slightly interested in the wildlife of Antarctica. [...]"
– Grant McCreary (23-10-2011), read the full review at The Birder's Library